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01 May 2009 @ 06:58 pm
[fic] casualties  
Title: Casualties
Fandom: Resident Evil
Characters: Chris Redfield, Rebecca Chambers
Rating: PG-ish
Notes: Post RE1, pre-RE2.

Her apartment looked untouched, but Rebecca felt it was better safe than sorry. She inched through the door with her S.T.A.R.S. standard-issue handgun pointed at the floor, and Chris eased in behind her, miraculously silent despite his size. He didn’t look like the kind of guy capable of being stealthy, more like the kind that would barrel through a room and everyone within a five mile radius would be alerted to it. Of course, over the last week or so, Rebecca had learned that Chris was by far one of the most capable soldiers she’d ever met in her life. It made her feel better having him at her back.

At first glance, nothing seemed out of place, down to the book she’d been reading that had been left face-down and open on her coffee table. The kitchen sink was dripping (it always did that) and the place was a bit stuffy as it usually was when she didn’t remember to open up some windows and let the air flow get moving. Oddly enough, one of the first things she noticed was the fishbowl near her desk, and the fish inside floating belly-up. It’d been the first pet she’d ever owned, and it had survived the trip from her parents’ place to her new home, and it was one casualty among a thousand others caused by Umbrella… Insignificant, maybe, but it made her eyes sting for a few seconds, regardless.

Chris gestured for her to stay put with a motion of his hand, and he disappeared around the nearest corner which led to her bedroom and bathroom. He was checking closets, windows, under her bed… and Rebecca busied herself going over the rest of the small place. No one in the coat closet, no one in the kitchen or pantry. There was no room for someone to logically fit into the linen closet, but she checked there, anyway. Who knew if the place was bugged or not, or if it was being watched… but Barry and Jill were just outside in a van, waiting, and all Rebecca needed to do there was grab a few things and they could get going.

I just moved in, she thought unhappily. Jill hasn’t been here that long, either… and now we’re all being chased out like some fugitives. Barry had to send his kids and wife away…

Chris emerged from the back of the apartment, offered her a bit of a smile as though to say All clear. Rebecca relaxed a little, nodded, and turned her attention to the small desk occupying the dining room corner in lieu of a proper dining table. She couldn’t be positive, but everything looked in place… Work forms, papers, a request for time off she’d planned on submitting for Christmas to go out West and see her parents –

Her eyes scanned briefly over a copy of the report regarding Billy Coen and the overturned MP transport vehicle she and Bravo Team had encountered, just a duplicate of the original that had been signed and turned over to Chief Irons, and quickly she tore her gaze away. The paper served as a reminder (as though she needed one) of the only thing she’d really wanted to obtain from her new home.

Rebecca holstered her gun, and Chris kept on her heels as she headed back into her bedroom. She didn’t go straight for the object she wanted, but rather crouched and yanked a duffel bag out from under her bed, tossed it atop the neatly made covers, and began to fill it with clothes. Shirts and jeans, clean socks, bras, underwear… She retreated into the bathroom for toiletries, plucked a photograph of herself with her parents from her bedside table, and let her eyes scan the room once more. Chris was looking over some of the pictures on the wall and he turned to grin at her, pointing to one of them. “This you? In the cowboy hat?”

Rebecca blinked once, felt her face flush red. “That was my first Halloween,” she said, as though it should explain everything. Chris let out an amused chuckle and turned away once more, perhaps wanting to give her some privacy while she packed and bid her home goodbye. They’d all had to do it and she was the last one… and she figured she had to be thankful that there was nothing of interest that she was leaving behind.

Once Chris was no longer paying attention, Rebecca slipped around to the opposite side of her bed, reaching for the silver chain that hung over one of the bed posts. The dog tags dangling clinked together as she fastened it around her neck and tucked it into her shirt, the engraved Billy Coen touching to the spot just between her breasts. Her thoughts drifted back to the hill over looking the mansion in the mountains, and she wondered if he’d encountered any trouble getting out of the woods. Not that they’d known at the time, but she’d later run into those dogs that chased Alpha Team into the estate, and Billy had been by himself, with no shelter or backup…

She blinked, shook her head to clear her thoughts. To assume that Billy had been taken down by dogs after some of the things they’d encountered in the training facility was asinine and not giving the ex-Marine nearly enough credit. He was trained, extremely capable… he’d be all right. He was all right. Probably fifty miles out of Raccoon by now, enjoying a beer in some bar somewhere…

Rebecca tossed a few more things into her bag and zipped it up, hauling it over one shoulder. Chris had meandered his way back out into the main rooms, probably raiding her fridge for any food they might bring along. Seeing as she hadn’t been to her apartment in sometime, she doubted there was much edible. If memory served, the milk had been about to go bad just before her mission.

During the few weeks following the mansion incident, the S.T.A.R.S. members had quickly learned that Umbrella was not something so easily brought down by the word of a few. In Raccoon, they were now the bad guys. The negligent task force that had to be suspended, after Bravo Team had crashed its helicopter in the woods because the pilot had been drinking on the job (ludicrous-!!) and their botched mission had cost the lives of several Alpha Team members, and every single member of Bravo Team… save for Rebecca Chambers.

(Her thoughts drifted briefly to Enrico, Richard, Forest… the people she’d quickly learned to look up to like big brothers, like friends--)

Now Umbrella knew that they knew too much; Barry’s place had already been attacked and ransacked when he wasn’t home (thankfully), they’d all caught themselves being followed at some point or another, and it was only a matter of time before Umbrella decided to just spare themselves the trouble and take them out to avoid their story reaching anyone who gave a damn.

Again, she shook her head from her thoughts, found her way back to her desk one last time to study the report she’d filed to the RPD’s chief.

’The unidentified body was identified as former ensign, Billy Coen…’

“Some first mission, huh,” she heard Chris murmur, close enough to her ear that she startled. He offered her an apologetic smile but then his eyes were traveling past her, to the report she’d been leaning over. He picked it up to read it over and Rebecca felt her chest tighten nervously. It’d been a huge lie to tell, not only falsifying an escaped convict’s death to her own superior, but to the military, the government. Her throat suddenly felt dry.

“Billy Coen,” Chris read, thoughtful, “’The corpses were severely mauled, apparently torn apart by unidentified wild animals… The following day we returned to the location to recover the bodies but they were nowhere to be found.’” His gaze flicked briefly to Rebecca. “…’Military authorities have requested that we turn over Coen's body as proof of his death. But due to the circumstances described above, it will be a difficult task to recover the corpse. I am requesting that this case be temporarily closed until further notice.’”

He read the rest in silence, shook his head slightly and handed the paper back to her. Rebecca deftly folded it and slipped it into a back pocket. Why she was bringing it along, she didn’t know. It was notarized and signed by the Chief, maybe she wanted proof that she’d turned it over so that Irons couldn’t accidentally lose it.

“Lot of trouble for a convict,” Chris said, glancing off. “I mean, could’ve just let them keep searching for him. No skin off your back.”

Rebecca swallowed, turned, feigned going through the other papers on her desk. “Could have,” she murmured absently.

“…Or turned over those tags of his.”

The former S.T.A.R.S. rookie froze.

“The ones you’re wearing,” Chris continued, as Rebecca slowly straightened up and turned to face him. The brunette regarded her, calm and not seeming angry or otherwise bothered… although he did extend a hand, hooked a finger into the chain disappearing inside of her shirt, and tugged the tugs out so that he could examine the name. She couldn’t think to move, and yanking the tags from his grasp was only proof of her guilt…

Chris let a faint smile tug at his mouth. “Yeah… thought so.” When Rebecca ducked her head, Chris dropped the tags and lifted his hand to ruffle her hair fondly. “You did a good job in your report of the incidents before the mansion, but when you talked about it… always sounded like you were leaving something out. Someone out.”

Rebecca blinked once, felt her eyes threatening to tear up and feeling immediately defensive over the entire situation. Her head snapped up and she half-glared at Chris, ignoring the way her vision was blurring.

“He helped me. He saved my life, he – he didn’t do anything wrong, he didn’t hurt any one and – how could I just let them get away with that? Framing an innocent man because he was a convenient scapegoat… They-“

“Whoa, whoa,” Chris held up his hands, and Rebecca quieted instantly, not sure whether to be further angered or simply embarrassed at her outburst. Her head lowered again and Chris’s warm, heavy hands came to rest on her shoulders. Lingering there at first, and then he was drawing her to him in a tight hug. He didn’t feel nor smell like Billy had, but it was comforting, and Rebecca turned her head to bury it against his chest, wordless.

Chris’s fingers soothed over her hair as though this was something he was perfectly familiar with. Maybe he was; she recalled him speaking often of his younger sister, attending college a few cities over… He was used to being a big brother, used to supporting and comforting. Rebecca had no siblings, but she’d always thought having a protective older sibling would have been nice. “I’m sure he got out of the city,” Chris continued, “and I bet he’ll never forget you; hell, I bet he’ll try to come see you again sometime, too.” She didn’t know whether to believe the words or not, but Chris had picked out her fears and laid them out there, put words to them, and her chest ached with the weight of it and the hope it inspired.

He let her remain where she was for awhile longer, but eventually Rebecca withdrew, swiping at her eyes and feeling… better. Embarrassed, perhaps, but Chris was looking at her no differently for it and so she would try not to let it bother her.

“We should probably get going,” she said softly, giving her eyes one final wipe before looking up. Chris nodded, reached to take the bag from her and hauled it with ease over his shoulder. When he reached to gather her small hand in his own large one, it surprised her a bit, but the gesture was soothing and so she gave his fingers a squeeze.

They walked hand-in-hand to the door and stepped out into the empty hall. Rebecca twisted to give one last look at her home, the projects she’d insisted she was going to get to, the curtains she’d never had a chance to hang, the photos on the wall that told the story of her own childhood leading up to her departure after being accepted into S.T.A.R.S. Everything abandoned and she wouldn’t be able to look back on this again.

Like Chris, like Jill and Barry and even Chickenheart-Vickers… their lives were just one more casualty of Umbrella, and they’d need to fight to get them back.
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